The Pittsburgh Steelers will never be fully successful in quieting the outside noise that surrounds the team unless they prove that they can win on a consistent basis. Even after Monday’s victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Head Coach Mike Tomlin had to field a question about running back Le’Veon Bell, which he declined to answer.
But while James Conner has generally done an admirable job in Bell’s absence, the team is 1-1-1 without him, and ultimately, when you’re taking about a guy you were willing to pay nearly $1 million per game and he’s not there, it’s still going to be noteworthy while he’s gone, not knowing when or if he ever will show up.
Adam Schefter reported last week that the team is now listening to trade offers for other teams, though it still seems unlikely the Steelers will find an offer that reflect appropriate value. Yesterday, Gerry Dulac went so far as to suggest that they will not put him on the field.
In response to a question during a chat regarding if it is worth it to keep Bell if he shows up at the last moment for the last several games, he said that it’s not. “It’s more likely the Steelers will get rid of him than play him in 2018”, he said, seemingly with emphasis.
It’s worth noting that Dulac has been among those in the local media hardest on Bell over the past couple of years, and is clearly among those who are frankly just tired of dealing with and talking about him. There’s a high probability that his comment is tainted with personal bias.
It’s certainly a bold one as well, and one that would seem to go against the grain of what we know about the Steelers. If Bell reports for Week 11, and he looks like he can take some snaps, would they really choose to release him? If so, then they might as well rescind the franchise tag, or take almost literally any trade offer that they are given.
The big question here is whether or not Dulac’s comment actually has any substance to it. Is it even tangentially sourced on any kind of valid intelligence regarding how the team views the situation, or is he just speaking as somebody who is tired of having to answer questions about a person he doesn’t even like?
One thing I think I can say with relative confidence is that the team is not going to torpedo the season out of spite. If they believe that Bell can play and help them win a Super Bowl this year, and he actually reports, I would be pretty surprised if they didn’t give him the opportunity to show that he can contribute, even if Conner retains the primary ball-carrier role.
Even Dulac wrote later in his chat in a response to another question, “I don’t think for a minute the Steelers will be vindictive how they handle his situation”, though he added “it will be very business-like and matter-of-fact, but it won’t end well for Bell”.